Now we move inside to the big bullies in the trenches. The guards who fight to not only keep the defensive linemen out of the backfield, but to push them around to create space for the running backs. Here’s how they rank in the AFC West.
1. Raiders – Kelechi Osemele, Gabe Jackson
With a bullet. And it’s not close. The All Pro Osemele and fringe Pro Bowler Jackson is one of the best guard duos in the league, let alone the division. Even in a down year which had the offensive line struggling early on to acclimate to a poor scheme, the Raiders finished top ten in the league in yards per carry (4.4) and these two gave up 3 total sacks between them.
2. Broncos – Ronald Leary, Connor McGovern
Leary came over from Dallas and was as advertised for the Broncos last season and is one of the better guards in the league. McGovern is a former 5th round pick who started five games last season and is still a major question mark. Leary is the only reason the Broncos are second behind the Raiders in the division. They were in the bottom five of the league in yards per carry (3.6) and gave up 3 sacks between them.
3. Chiefs – Bryan Witzmann, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
Again, an uneven pair. Duvernay-Tardif is a very solid guard, having been the starter the past three seasons. Witzmann not so much. He became a starter for the first time last season with a bit of musical chairs at the guard spots. Paul Ehinger and Cameron Irving both saw starts at guard as well, mostly due to Duvernay-Tardif’s knee injury. They finished the season middle of the road in yards per carry (4.2).
4. Chargers – Dan Feeney, Forrest Lamp
Lamp and Feeney were the Chargers’ round 2 and 3 pick respectively in the 2017 draft. Feeney had a subpar rookie season and Lamp suffered an ACL tear before the start of the season that had him out all year. With Feeney and Kenny Wiggins at the guard spots last year, the Chargers were among the league’s lowest yards per carry (3.8). Feeney gave up 2 sacks in nine starts. Lamp could be an upgrade, but he must recover fully from his injury and actually take to field before we know anything.